Comprehending the Credentials: Making Sense of Alphabet Soup

Do Doctor visits leave you confused? - Trust me, I'm a doctor

When looking for a therapist, it can become confusing with all of the “alphabet soup” that follows their names. The purpose of this article is to help you decipher some of the common abbreviations. Keep in mind that these can vary from country to country, and sometimes even state to state.

Please email and let me know if I’ve missed something in this article and we’ll continue to update it regularly.


  • Associate Degrees: Awarded for completion of a two-year program, usually at a Community College or Trade School.
    • AA: Associate of Art.
    • AS: Associate of Science.
  • Bachelors Degrees: Awarded for completion of a four-year program, usually at a College or University.
    • BA:  Bachelor of Art.
    • BS: Bachelor of Science.
    • BSEd: Bachelor of Science in Education.
    • BSW: Bachelor of Social Work.
  • Masters Degrees: Awarded for completion of an additional two-year program beyond Bachelors Degrees. Includes intense focus on the selected field, including more practical experience and advanced classes.
    • EdM: Master of Education.
    • EdS: Education Specialist (requires a Masters Degree, additional coursework, and sometimes a project.)
    • MA: Master of Arts.
    • MAHS: Master of Arts in Human Services.
    • MC: Master of Counseling.
    • MDiv: Master of Divinity.
    • MEd: Master of Education.
    • MPC: Master of Professional Counseling.
    • MPH: Master of Public Health.
    • MPS: Master of Professional Studies.
    • MS: Master of Science.
    • MSc: Master of Science.
    • MSC: Master of Science in Counseling.
    • MSEd: Master of Science in Education.
    • MSN: Master of Science in Nursing.
    • MSS: Master of Social Science.
    • MSSW: Master of Science in Social Work.
    • MSW: Master of Social Work.
  • Doctoral Degrees: The highest level of academic degree. Awarded for completion of an additional four-year program beyond a Masters Degree. Typically requires the completion of a Doctoral Thesis in the applied field of study, though some fields and online colleges no longer require this.
    • DDiv: Doctor of Divinity.
    • DMFT: Doctor of marriage and Family Therapy
    • DMin: Doctor of Ministry.
    • DO: Doctor of Osteopathy.
    • DrPH: Doctor of Public Health.
    • DSW: Doctor of Social Work.
    • EdD: Doctor of Education.
    • LPsy: Licentiate in Psychology (EU and Latin American equivalent of a PsyD.)
    • MD: Doctor of Medicine.
    • PsyaD: Doctor of Psychoanalysis.
    • PsyD: Doctor of Psuchology.
    • PhD: Doctor of Philosophy.
    • ScD: Doctor of Science.

Licenses & Certifications

Derek Wood is a Nationally Board Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology. His experience in the online arena of mental health can be traced back to 1997, when he was a host for Online Psych on AOL. He joined Get Mental Help, Inc. as Clinical Content Director for Mental Health Matters. Derek, with his wife Lisa, developed the original version of psychTracker (then called A Mood Journal), after his diagnosis with Schizo-Affective Bipolar, when they could not find a system available that was robust enough to help him effectively manage his symptoms and accurately interpret his charting. Derek has worked in the field of mental health since 2001, as a Unit Manager of an adult long-term treatment facility, a charge nurse in an adolescent short-term inpatient facility and long-term residential facility, and as a School Psychologist. He has also written several articles which are being used as CEU for nurses and educators.

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